Now that you have an idea of how a two-way radio or walkie-talkie works, and you also know the various factors you need to look into when buying one, here are our full reviews and rating of some of the best and most popular handheld two-way radios at the top of selections in the market today.
In coming up with these options, we considered all the factors mentioned above, as well as our own observation in using the units so that we can give you a true representation of what the units are and the kind of experience you can expect from using what you will choose and buy. Read on to find out more about our rating.
Best Two Way Radio Reviews of 2019
1. Motorola MS350R
Motorola is a huge and popular name in the digital telecoms industry. Motorola is one of the top manufacturers of reliable mobile radio phones and now, even digital walkie-talkies/two-way radios. The Motorola MS350R is one of the best FRS GMRS walkie talkies you will find nowadays. This Motorola gadget promises a solid functioning in most of the applications, and it is also lightweight and small so that you won’t have to be bothered by extra weight. One of the remarkable features you will love about this Motorola model is its range, which is a whopping 35 mile radius. If you are interested in a versatile handheld two-way radio, then you will find a lot of pleasure in owning and using this set by Motorola (Hint: they are available on Amazon).
- It is lightweight, handy and durable
- It is water proof and weatherproof
- Comes in an attractive design
- Comes with effective antenna and belt clip
- Has removable batteries
- With 22 channels and 121 privacy code
- Though this FRS GMRS walkie talkie has a 35-mile range, this will vary from place to place.
2. Midland GXT1000VP4
The Midland GXT1000VP4 is another great and dependable FRS GMRS walkie talkie you can consider, especially if you need a versatile and mobile device for your adventures. It is a heavy-duty two-way radio, designed and built with program features to enable it to run in the toughest and most severe of conditions. With a long-range of 36 mile radius, this radio is going to suffice the needs of the majority.
The walkie talkie uses both FRS channels and GMRS band with the ability to use 22 main channels and 28 main channels respectively. It also comes with 142 privacy codes, thus giving you incredible control during those moments when you don’t want to have interference when chatting with other users. You will also be pleased to know that the radio is capable of giving live NOAA weather alerts and information updates from the NOAA channel ahead of time. On the battery cell life, when fully charged using the charger, you can use the rechargeable battery packs for slightly over ten hours a day or higher. It also comes with headsets, so you can communicate and talk easily using the walkie talkies.
- Handy, affordable, lightweight, and sturdy two-way radio
- Has a long range of up to 36 miles
- It is water proof, thus ideal for outdoor applications
- Comes with over 20 FRS channels and GMRS channels
- Has NOAA weather channels and notices
- Includes headsets, A/C and car charger
- Good battery life
- Do not have direct messaging options or group modes.
3. Cobra ACXT545
Cobra Electronics is another household communication brand whose walkie talkies you can trust. The company will be remembered as the very first creator of the world’s CB radio over five decades ago. This is just a subtle reminder about their legacy in the industry, as well as the quality of the products they offer. The Cobra ACXT545 has been built to last and guarantees very stable operation under varying circumstances, even outdoors for days.
With a long range of 30 miles in open spaces and 10 miles in closed places like towns, the walkie talkie is ideal for most normal applications, and you will also not be disappointed should you venture outside with it. The walkie talkie has a total of 22 band channels, and when these are combined with the 124 privacy codes it comes with, you can get up to 2662 channel combination, thus allowing for incredible control over communicating operation. The other notable features and functionalities of the radio pack include integration with the NOAA radio receiver for live NOAA weather updates and alerts, and LED flashlight for use in dark conditions and rubberized grips for a good hold.
- Affordable two-way radio with great performance
- Has a range of up to 30 miles
- Can give a channel combination of up to 2662 channels
- Fitted with a vibrating alert as well as a voice-activated features
- Hands-free feature
- The range is not consistent and may vary
- It is not water proof, hence, not ideal for use in outdoor conditions
4. Midland LXT600VP3
Here is another walkie talkie by Midland that makes it to our list of the best two-way radios, and this can only be because it is of great quality. The Midland LXT600VP3 boasts of a long range of 30 miles in open places, but this reduces to about ten miles in places with lots of obstruction such as in towns and cities.
It is water resistant, and this means that the walkie talkie is weatherproof and will survive the rain and splashes, but you should never dunk it underwater since it may never survive when in a lot of water. With a total of 22 channels, you get incredible channel combination and its integration with the NOAA channels guarantees that you will also have live weather updates and alerts right from the radio. When fully charged, the battery packs of this walkie talkie can give radio service that lasts for up to 12 hours a day of uninterrupted use.
- Lightweight, reliable and water resistant
- Affordable product
- Comes with a total of 22 GMRS band channels
- Has a range of 30 miles with weather channels alert
- Hands-free and features a belt clip
- The range varies depending on available obstructions
- Not 100% water proof
Whether you have real or imagined use for them, walkie talkies are fancy gadgets that can come handy in several situations, especially in places where there are no cell phone signals and you need to communicate urgently. Though their range is limited, they are ideal for communicating between teams in sports events, camping sites, survival activities, hiking trails, factories, warehouses, and many other similar environments outdoors. But it is imperative for you to gear up and understand how they perform and how to choose a set that will suit all your needs, especially with private emergency and weather alert. Hopefully, this guide gives you vital insights into what it takes to end up with the best two-way radios/walkie talkies, and you are also free to use any of the reviewed radios above any time.
A walkie talkie (with FRS & GMRS) is a fancy but essential gadget/product worth having for several applications. You were probably fascinated by a walkie talkie when you were young in your home, and you secretly wished if you could own them.
While growing up, you see law enforcement officers with them and you realize that you are still fascinated by them. Well, the truth is that two-way radios are not a preserve of anyone, and if you wish, you could easily get a pair so that you also enjoy the fun that people derive when they use them.
In as much as you may opt to have two way radios just for fun with your family and friends when you’re around the house, there are certain situations when you genuinely need to have a walkie talkie, or when the presence of a walkie talkie would be more convenient than even having a mobile phone. Think of campers or hikers exploring new ground and need to be in constant connection through audio or voice messages.
We all know that general mobile radio service may be unreliable and offer little radio service in remote areas, but this would not be a problem for a walkie talkie since they rely on radio frequency. Also think about factory operators, farmers, and other people who may need to stay in constant touch during discharging their duties for days. This is just a subtle illustration of just how vital two-way radios.
If you’re interested in owning a walkie talkie, you will be surprised at the superfluity of types and models in the market nowadays. If this is going to be your first interaction with these gadgets, then you’re likely to get confused, and without the right information, you may end up with a brand or a model that may not suit your needs, whether it’s just for simple exchange of messages at home or getting weather conditions. Either, you won’t get one with the range you wanted, or you may purchase one with frequency you are not allowed to have.
It is important to remember that radio frequencies are controlled by the government, and depending on the two way radio or walkie talkie you want, you may have to apply for a license to be allowed to use certain frequencies.
This is why it is imperative to know how to buy the radios the right way so that you get the convenience you had desired and also avoid having unnecessary run-ins with the government, especially during an emergency. To help you out, here is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about two-way radios, including our cherry-picked recommendations for the best brands and models.
Two-way radio basics
Before delving deep into the specific factors you should consider when buying these radio types as well as the specific models worth considering, it is imperative that you first understand how these radios work so that when you consider your options, you will know exactly what you should be looking at.
Unlike what you have believed, the basic operations of a two-way radio is very simple. The radios are designed to transmit and receive radio alerts on very specific channels, including FRS GMRS. It means that if you’re not within the designated channels, then your handsets will be useless.
Most two way radios work in nearly the same manner. They are powered by a rechargeable battery and this is normally located at the base of the unit. The butttons for volume control, which doubles up as the on/off switch is normally found at the face of the unit and sometimes there are two of them. Then there is a transmission button used to operate the radio.
To communicate, transmission toggle is pressed and the user speaks into the microphone unit for the message to be transmitted to any receiver in the area. When this toggle is pressed, the previously inactive receive button becomes active so that the user can listen to an incoming message.
Most of the two-way radios automatically scan and operate on multiple channels (like FRS GMRS), though some are designated to operate on just a single frequency. When buying these radios, it is always a good idea to have multiple channels, especially if you intend to have a team with different points of communication using the radios.
With multiple channels, it will be very easy for you to assign different frequencies to different users so that you have more control over it and so that you communicate only with the persons you wanted to talk to. In this manner, you will reduce instances of eavesdropping or interferences in setups where several radios are being used.
Factors to consider when choosing a two-way radio
As noted earlier, there is a plethora of brands and models of two-way radios in the market today. When you’re out shopping for these radio categories, here is a brief look at some of the factors you should use as a guide to help find a two-way radio that will be most suitable for your needs before you buy one.
The maximum range of the two-way radio is one of the most important factors you should never overlook when making your selection of good radios, including the power of its antenna. In most cases, the maximum range available for consumers using the PMR446 on 0.5W transmit power can be up to 10 km or 6 mile radius. This is really helpful for emergency cases where you need to gear up yourself with a handheld device that offers a perfect means to automatically scan signal for signal and have an important message to send, which includes a call for help.
However, this range may only be realized in good conditions: you are at very high altitudes with no obstacles between the transmitting and the receiving radios, plus the line of sight. Unless you’re using the radios between mountain tops, this is a channel range and line you are never going to get.
However, you still need to consider the range and pick on the ones with adequate range for the majority of those using it. If you need something above the normal, then you may be compelled to go for a powerful two-way radio with a good antenna power, which will not just be very expensive but may also require a license to operate.
The number of handsets
A two-way radio set must not only be restricted to two handsets and you should be aware that you can purchase a radio with multiple handsets if you will need such for a group. If you need the radio pack for hiking, survival adventure or sports, then a twin set may work if you are in a small group.
However, if you are manning a warehouse and you want everyone connected and receiving alerts at all times, then you are going to consider a radio with more than just two sets in a pack or group. When it comes to the number of handsets, there is no right or wrong number you should consider, but it will depend on why you need the radio and how many you plan to use them.
The channels and privacy codes
Depending on the nature of the communications you will be having over the radios, you want to be very sure that your privacy will not be compromised in any way. If you are certain that you only need the radio for general uses, such as camping, survival adventure or hiking, then you may consider the license-free two-way radios that transmit on a fixed frequency. With most of these license-free two-way radios, they have either 8 or 16 channels which are manually tuned to allow exchange of signals between the two. Again, if you don’t want to use the license-free radios, be prepared to spend more on the more expensive ones.
In addition to the policy in channels, you also need to consider the privacy code of the radio. But you need to realize that the privacy codes are not designed so that you can’t be intercepted by anyone. The role of the codes is to make it easy to chat freely without getting interference from others. Having such code normally ideal in places such as ski resorts where you are likely to find many other two way radios being used.
The battery type and battery life
Some two-way radios are fitted with the normal alkaline batteries (AA batteries or AAA batteries) for power supply (in watts) while others come with rechargeable batteries in the pack, complete with a charging dock added to it. Your choice of the radio should thus factor in the battery life, watt usage and the situations under which you will be using the radio powered by batteries in a day.
For example, if you need to use the radio for hiking, survival adventure or in places where you may not have access to a power supply, then a radio with the regular battery would be the most ideal to gear up with your adventure. However, for plant or factory operations or if you intend to use the radio in environments where you can access power, then going for the rechargeable business type ones will be the most appropriate option for longer and higher capacity battery life. The batteries are usually charged through a base charger that comes with the pack.
The weight of the radio
For most applications and mode, you wouldn’t want to go for a heavy radio. Instead, pick a light one. If you are going for a rugged hike or camping, you know how additional weight can cause you a lot of inconveniences. Therefore, check on the weight and be sure that it will not be a hindrance to your application. If, however, you will not be moving around with the radio, or it will stay indoors as your family radio service or be used in stationary places, then the weight will not be a problem, and you will be free to pick not only the light ones but even the bulky ones.
User reviews and rating
Finally, you keep in mind to check out the full reviews and rating submitted by past buyers before settling on an option. This is easy with sites like Amazon, with Amazon buyers often leaving their thoughts of their purchased products. Since you haven’t tried the radios yet, the only way for you to know if they are worth it is to delve into the reviews submitted by past buyers so that you have an idea of the kind of gadget that you will receive. Some buyers even weigh in on other features like gps capability with multi-use models and option that provide extremely advanced technology in terms of gps coverage, perfect and clear audio for voice exchange, large mile coverage and radio service. It is highly recommended that you stick with the base units that have very impressive reviews and don’t bother with those that have poor rating.
More things to consider
Aside from those mentioned above, there are other things, plus added feature and mode you should look for in one of the top walkie talkies you should choose to buy.
- Keypad lock – A lock is greatly helpful with activities that increase high possibility of accidentally pressing the keypad while on a call.
- VHF – A walkie talkie that’s a VHF type packs an added feature of being able to quickly contact VHF. It allows users to call and talk to other devices with the same VHF signal.
- VOX – Vox is a program that offers ability to activate using a user’s voice. Vox makes contact process easier and would earn less effort and time.
- Flashlight – Some new and high-end multi-use business walkie talkies and two-way radios have a flashlight feature to help with rugged outdoor use.